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Archives acquires additional Shockley papers on eugenics

William Shockley

The University Archives has acquired an addition to its William Shockley and Eugenics Collection. The materials, originally part of John B. deC. M. Saunders' files, consist of Foundation for Research and Education on Eugencis and Dysgenics (FREED) correspondence, news clippings, publications and ephemera related to Shockley's work on heredity, I.Q., and race.

Shockley, professor of engineering at Stanford, was co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics, 1956. In the 1960s, he became intensely interested in questions of race, intelligence, and eugenics. Shockley thought this work was important to the genetic future of the human species, and came to describe it as the most important work of his career, even though expressing such politically unpopular views risked damaging his reputation. 

Shockley argued that the higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization. He advocated that the scientific community should seriously investigate questions of heredity, intelligence, and demographic trends, and suggest policy changes if he was proven right.

 

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